Yankees’ All-Star second baseman knows his days could be numbered

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Miami Marlins
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Despite the fact that former All-Star infielder Gleyber Torres desperately wants to stay with the Yankees, the two sides haven’t negotiated on an extension.

General manager Brian Cashman recently indicated that they will wait until after the season to make any decisions on Torres’ feature with the team, similar to how they plan to operate around Juan Soto and his mega-deal in free agency.

Torres’ Performance and Value to the Yankees

However, Cashman also noted that Torres was one of their best hitters in 2023, and that certainly holds value. Last season, Torres played 158 games, hitting .273/.347/.453. He contributed 25 homers, the most since 2019, and collected 68 RBIs with 13 stolen bases. His 14.6% strikeout rate was 8% lower than his 2022 number and recorded a 10% walk rate, just the second time in his career he posted a double digit percentage.

Overall, Torres was a 123 wRC+ hitter, indicating he was 23% better than the average. He posted 3.2 WAR, his highest since 2019 when he collected 3.6 and hit a career-high 38 homers. However, Torres is trying his best to reduce his strikeout percentages and boost his contact rates. He earned a 40.3% hard-hit percentage last year, including a 7.9% barrel rate and 89.7 average exit velocity. However, he did post a career-high 112.4 max exit velocity and provided plenty of loft in a swing with a 15.1° launch angle.

All accounts show that Torres had one of his best offensive campaigns, and the Yankees are hoping he can do that once again in a season where World Series aspirations are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Nevertheless, Torres is a bit concerned about his future, and despite stating his interest in returning, Cashman has reared his head at every chance.

“I always say, I feel (at) home right now,” Torres said. “I know this organization since 2016. I feel good. I know everybody. As a player, you never want to leave your house. I’m in a good spot.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Sep 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) is interviewed after defeating the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Business of Baseball and Future Considerations

Despite being acquired by the Yankees back in 2016 from the Chicago Cubs, he’s essentially a homegrown talent who started with the Bombers in High-A Hudson Valley. He’s been with the team for seven seasons and has been an above-average hitter for the majority of his career, suggesting that he could play an important piece in the team’s future plans. However, the Yankees have tried to trade him in the past for pitching, and despite that lack of loyalty, Torres remains dead set on remaining in pinstripes.

Nonetheless, he also sees the writing on the wall and understands that this could be his last year in the Bronx, which would certainly be disappointing but represents the business of baseball and how players can jump around teams due to positional value and other expenses.

“I can’t lie, sometimes I think that it’s going to be my last year here,” Torres told The Athletic. “I don’t know the business plan next year. It’s just motivation for myself. I always say, we play for another team sometimes. It’s a business. I don’t know the plan for the Yankees or myself.”

As a leader in the clubhouse, Torres brings plenty of intangible traits to the Yankees as well. He is a positive influence on the younger players and always has a smile on his face, which is certainly an energy the team has needed over the past year.

Defensively, Torres has had his ups and downs, recording a .975 percentage over 1,255.2 innings at second base last year. He did record 15 errors, including -4 defensive runs saved and -3 outs above average. We’ve seen him put together above-average defensive metrics, but they’ve been inconsistent.

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Torres is Looking to Put the Pieces Together

Torres has the capabilities to round out his performance with balance on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Far too many base running mishaps have also bubbled to the surface in recent seasons, but the Yankees know he’s more of an asset than a liability, and that is why Cashman coined him their starting second baseman months ago.

With that being said, the future is certainly open for interpretation, since they have DJ LeMahieu who who can transition over to second, and a number of prospects fighting for an opportunity.

Jorbit Vivas is a new player the Yanks acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers this off-season, and Oswald Peraza is still fighting for a chance to make the roster. Neither are even close to Torres in terms of production and experience, so it would certainly be a drop-off if the Bombers do elect to go in one of those two routes.

Alternatively, they could look to the free agent market to smooth over the position, investing in pitching and bringing back Soto on a mega contract.

For now, Torres will continue to motivate himself instead of having the support of a long-term extension that protects his future.

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